Google announced today that from the beginning of 2020, Google will provide a new search provider selection interface when Android users in Europe set up a new mobile phone or tablet for the first time. The search engine selected by the user will become the default search service provider for the Android home screen and the Chrome browser (if installed) search box.
However, search providers who want to enter the Android search provider selection interface with Google must pay Google.Google will select search providers through a sealed auction process, and the top three bids will appear in the selection interface. A sealed auction means that all quotations are sealed in an envelope at the same time, and the person with the highest quotation will win an auction.
In July 2018, Google was fined a record $5 billion for violating EU antitrust laws. The EU is still arguing that Google will stop “illegally binding its Chrome browser and search application to Android.” The European Commission then handed over to Google in compliance with this directive and will continue to monitor it.
Google explained the auction process in a blog post today: “In each country’s auction process, search providers will indicate the price they are willing to pay for each user’s selection of the interface from the selection interface to the default search engine for a particular country. Each country sets a minimum bid threshold. Among the search providers that meet or exceed the bid threshold for a particular country, the top three bidders will appear in the country’s search engine selection interface. Google did not disclose how much the minimum bid threshold is, but said the number of bidders and their bids will be kept confidential.
Google has proved the rationality of this auction process in the frequently asked questions. “Anymment is a fair and objective way of determining which search providers appear in the selection interface. It allows search providers to determine the value that appears in the selection interface and give quotes accordingly,” Google said.
Google has argued that companies need to tie search to Android and Chrome browsers in order to get a return on Android’s major investments. The European Commission rejected this claim, arguing that Google alone earned billions of dollars from the Google Play store and collected data to provide advertising business value.
After the initial setup, European Android users can change their default search engine at any time. The deadline for search providers to apply for eligibility and bids for Google is September 13, 2019. The winner of each country and whether it is added to the selection interface will be confirmed by October 31, 2019.